District has more administrators than others

Published 12:24 am Wednesday, May 16, 2018

NATCHEZ — A recent study of administrative positions in the Natchez-Adams School District shows the district has more administrators than comparable school districts, but pays its administrators less.

In November, the school district commissioned John Jordan of Core Learning LLC to conduct two survey projects: One to measure employee satisfaction and another to compare salaries of Natchez school administration to other districts in the state.

Email newsletter signup

Jordan presented the findings of the second survey at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

In looking at administrative positions and salaries, Core Learning compared NASD to 10 other school districts with similar revenue resources — five districts that ranked above NASD and five districts that ranked below NASD in total revenue from local, federal and state sources.

The 10 school districts in the study included schools from Clinton, South Panola, Hancock County, Columbus, Sunflower County, Pearl, Petal, Picayune, Grenada and Simpson County.

With 43 administrative positions, NASD had more administrators than all but Sunflower County, which had 44 positions.

NASD spent more in administrative costs at $1,796,424.04 than all of the districts in the comparison study, including Sunflower County, which spent $1,647,729.23.

“The perception on numbers of administrators in the (Natchez-Adams School District) is warranted to a point,” Jordan said.

One issue that is being overlooked, Jordan said, is that the median salary of administrators is the lowest of the comparison group.

“Administrative salaries are $6,000 to $7,000 less than the average group we compared,” Jordan said.

According to Mississippi Department of Education numbers, the median salary of NASD administrators is $66,327. The highest median salary of the 10 school districts compared was the $82,892 in the Picayune School District. The second lowest median salary above NASD was $67,641 in Columbus Municipal School District.

“So, more services for students and parents with more administrators on a lower cost per average on an individual or less services provided to families and students at higher rates of pay for a lesser number of people, make your choice,” Jordan said to the school board.

Jordan also expressed concerns that some of the positions in NASD identified as administrative per MDE’s coding standards, are not administrative.

“At least four of the people that (are identified as) administrators are academic coaches,” Jordan said. “An academic coach, even though it is assigned to an administrative budget stream is not an administrator.”

“Because they are doing work that is not tied to a classroom on a daily basis they are automatically considered an administrator,” he said.

Despite low administrative salaries, Jordan said principals in the school district are “undervalued.”

“Principals of this school district are on average paid less than their counterparts,” he said.

Jordan said principals make sure quality teachers are placed in the classroom — a critical role when it comes to educating children.

“Books, computers, the building — beautiful buildings —take a secondary role to the quality of the human being who is standing in front of 25 children on a daily basis,” Jordan said. “That is what makes good school districts.”

School board member Renee Davis-Wall said it is difficult for the district to suddenly cut jobs and asked Superintendent Fred Butcher about changes the district has made.

Butcher said the district has made changes and will continue to look at changes as guided by Core Learning’s study.

“We have started cutting back by letting attrition takes its place.,” Butcher said. “We are making those adjustments because we realize the state is sending us less money.”

“When people leave, we try to move people around,” he said.